Pacific news in brief for July 8

Papua New Guinea – mine

Papua New Guinea’s Porgera gold mine may be forced to hault its operations if violence in the area continues.

Police have been pulled from the mine site to attend the nearby Yambali landslide.

There have been more than 200 incidents at the mine site including violent attacks in Enga Province since last October.

New Porgera Limited general manager, James McTiernan told The Natonal there have been a range of attacks on vehicles with rocks, knives and axes.

On top of that, people have been breaking into offices and destroying equipment.

The latest issue was someone setting a drill rig on fire.

McTiernan said it could lead to production delays and financial losses.

He said police have been pulled from the mine site to attend the nearby landslide, which claimed the lives of many hundred.

Pupua New Guinea – inquiry

A Commission of Inquiry into the Papua New Guinea police – over the civil unrest last January – is to get underway this month.

The National reported the government had convened an administrative investigation, which recommended the commission of inquiry.

In January, a protest by police sparked widespread violent rioting, leading to deaths, looting and the torching of businesses in Port Moresby.

The inquiry is tasked to look into the police response to the events of Black Wednesday, which are estimated to have resulted in damages of US$520 million dollars.

The inquiry is expected to report back to the prime minister within six months.

The terms of reference for the inquiry include whether the current organisational structure of police is adequate; whether the constabulary is adequately resourced and trained; whether the ratio of police to population is consistent with international standards and whether current operational strategies are relevant and practicable.

Vanuatu – visit

Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai is visiting China this week at the invitation of premier Li Qiang.

Salwai and his delegation started the visit with an official welcome ceremony in Guangzhou on Sunday afternoon.

According to the prime minister’s office, he is being accompanied by internal affairs minister Johnny Koanapo and lands minister Tchemaco Mahe.

On Monday, Salwai will be meeting with the vice governor of Guangdong province Wang Xi.

Vanuatu – suspended

There are five government directors currently suspended in Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reports the most recent suspensions are those of the Customs and Inland Revenue director, and the Civil Aviation Authority director.

The Public Service Commission said these two directors are suspended pending investigation into “serious allegations” – one faces 47, the other two.

They will be given time to respond to the allegations against them, according to the Commission disciplinary process.

The Environment, Protection and Conservation director was suspended in December last year, while the Forestry director was suspended early this year, as well as the Director of Education Services.

Samoa – jail

Samoa’s Supreme Court has issued a warning for those who abuse custom and tradition, especially the ifoga, to get reduced jail time.

It follows the recent sentencing of a man for manslaughter.

The Samoa Observer reported Judge Justice Vui Clarence Nelson told the man the so-called ifoga he did was an attempt to lessen the court’s punishment; and this is not acceptable.

The judge warned that “Our customs and traditions are not to be abused in this fashion”.

He said there would be no deduction to the sentence.

Cook Islands – drugs

Cook Islands Ports Authority wants to remind the public it’s keeping a careful watch on illegal drug importation.

Cook Islands News reported despite the country having a relatively low number of drug importation cases compared to other countries in the Pacific, there is no guarantee that it’s not coming through.

Cook Islands Port Authority chief executive Okesene Moananu said ports are risky areas.

The most recent incident is the discovery of heroin concealed in a shipment of cargo.

Moananu said they did not find it by accident but through ongoing work by police.

He said drug monitoring is not mandatory but staff do keep a close eye on any illegal activities.

Northern Mariana Islands – disease

Healthcare authorities in the Northern Marianas are advising residents to take necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease.

The Marianas has seen an uptick on the number of children with the disease.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation says hand, foot and mouth is caused by a virus that can easily spread from one person to another, and is most common in babies and children younger than 5.

It has informed and provided guidance to daycare and childcare facilities on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

Symptoms can include a fever, sore throat, painful mouth sores that blister, and rash on the hands and feet.

Northern Mariana Islands – economy

The senate president of the Northern Mariana Islands says the economy faces a complete economic collapse, and is calling for flights from mainland China to resume.

The Marianas Variety reported that prior to the pandemic, China was the second largest tourism market in the country.

Edith Guerrero said many businesses have shut down, with more to follow if Chinese tourist numbers do not increase.

However, the governor Arnold Palacios has said a ‘China or bust’ position is not the answer.

Kiribati – language

Kiribati Language Week, or Wikin te Taetae ni Kiribati, is underway in New Zealand.

The theme is:Thriving and flourishing our Kiribati language, culture, and knowledge build I-Kiribati resilience and prosperity.

Pacific Peoples secretary Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone said many i-Kiribati have settled in their chosen host country of New Zealand, as a result of the effects of climate change on their islands.

She said this week is an opportunity for those in New Zealand to support the community’s efforts to retain their language and culture, particularly their younger generations.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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